Laptops In Meetings

Lesson learned a few years ago:

Don’t bring your laptop to the meeting.

As an early wifi adopter I relished bringing my laptop to every meeting. Better efficiency, better note-taking, and instant gratification if you needed to Google something at the meeting. And just wrong.

The whole point of meeting is to make some decisions in a group setting. The laptop is a distraction. If you a scribe for the meeting you might be able to justify typing in everything almost verbatim, but for anyone else you just need to log the action items that come out of the meeting and maybe a few noteworthy discussions.

I had good intentions when I used to bring a laptop to all my meetings:

  • Typing up notes right in the meeting saved transcription time.
  • Heh, I’ve got that defect right here and it says it was closed an hour ago.
  • Hold, on let me IM Sandra and see if she how many hours she has left on the redesign.
  • Great action item, I’ll just compose an email and delegate it off right here.
  • No, the server is up right now, I just pulled up the login page.

With a laptop at the meeting you’re constantly reminded that this person might have a point, but you could cycle through a few emails and really not miss out on anything. I’m sure they won’t notice a little bit of typing.

If you really could get more done just working on your computer, maybe this badly run meeting isn’t the place to be. What you really need to do is re-examine your need to be at the meeting.

Perhaps every few weeks I bring a laptop to a meeting. Two possible reasons:

  • I’m actually giving a presentation with it.
  • It might be useful to quickly check some online reference information like our bug tracking database or log files from a server outage. (It stays closed unless the need actually arises.)